Aerial Fighter Plane Photos of Yosemite Valley


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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - May 16, 2005 - 01:34pm PT
Got the cool opportunity to fly in my friend John French's Czech fighter jet on May 13. We started in Sacramento then flew to tahoe then Lover's Leap then Yosemite and back. It was crazy. i got to do a roll and we got up to 550mph and 4G's. Here are some photos:

here i am posing in front of the plane:

in the cockpit getting ready to fly

A shot of Half Dome and the High Country:

A shot of Half Dome showing snow conditions on the descent:

Yosemite Falls:

Another shot of Half Dome and the Valley:

El Cap:

El Cap:

May 16, 2005 - 03:53pm PT
Man Chris, what a lucky guy you are. I sure wish I could take a ride in one of those puppies sometime. Awesome!


Ice climber
Ashland, Or
May 16, 2005 - 04:13pm PT
I wanna ride in a fighter jet!!!
deez nuts

Trad climber
May 16, 2005 - 04:19pm PT
Thats too bad the Big Walls book is already could of used these pics

May 16, 2005 - 07:03pm PT
Great pics!!

Trad climber
Wilkes Barre, PA
May 16, 2005 - 07:06pm PT
I have heard that flying in a jet is a life altering experience. Those pictures are unreal. I have never been to Yosemite but this helps me get an idea of the magnitude. Is there a road that goes right by El Cap, seen in the bottom left of the picture? If it does, where all does it go in the valley? Also, how is are the formations arranged, like is it the falls, then half dome, then el cap, like north to south or what have you? Thanks for posting. WOW
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - May 16, 2005 - 08:33pm PT
yeah, it was nuts. i just got lucky enough to know one of the few hundred people who have bought fighter planes from europe/asia. this plane was bought of the kyrgistani army and was used in the russian/afgan war.

Trad climber
one pass away from the big ditch
May 17, 2005 - 02:08am PT

I'm sure that you were flying at an approved altitude, right. :)

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
May 17, 2005 - 02:11am PT
Just make sure to stay away from the aerial tours of Washington DC these days
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
May 17, 2005 - 06:01pm PT
Holy frig, you lucky little bugger! If your bud ever wants someone to pay for gas, I'm there with bongs on. [The kind you nail, not smoke]

Incidentally, is Coil Air flying this spring? Ditto on the gas money, Brian.
David Nelson

San Francisco
May 17, 2005 - 08:12pm PT
Incredible photos is right! Nice work. But Chris, I can't believe they were taken at the proper altitude. How low were you? Wasn't he worried about getting nailed? THAT ticket would be a big one!

Also, just got my copy of the new Big Walls. Thanks. Pleasure is all mine.

Trad climber
Long Beach
May 18, 2005 - 12:26pm PT
So that racket was you? We were on After Six when you went whizzin' by.

Frankly, I'm waiting for Coiler in his 1961 Cessna 150 to go cruisin' the Valley with Bill "we're gonna die" Russell.

Trad climber
Eagle River, AK
May 18, 2005 - 05:32pm PT
Klaus, jealous?


May 21, 2005 - 12:35am PT
Altitudes over National Parks or Wilderness Protection areas are a REQUESTED 2000' AGL (Above Ground Level). And over sparsly populated areas only a mere 500' manadatory. So I'd say they were legal beagle kids.

(Besides try catching the N-number of a jet going 400kts+ Not happening.)
Eric Chisholm

Trad climber
Sebastopol, CA
May 21, 2005 - 02:35am PT
Bad ASS!!!!!!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - May 21, 2005 - 05:45pm PT
we were definitely legal. i think we were around 10 thousand feet. the pilot said it took all he could to not fly straight down the valley 200 feet off the ground.

now that would be sik

Social climber
The Deli
May 22, 2005 - 12:59am PT
It would be really sick to strafe the Lodge, the Village, and Curry with as many .50 cal rounds as the fighter can carry, and then swing around for a run at the Ahwahnee, at which point the pilot fires all available missiles into the target, destroying everything in the vicinity. Now that I would pay money to see… How much will your bro charge me for a ride like that (ammo included…)? Can we get some cluster bombs too? …might be a nice 4th of July display if we do it at night…

May 22, 2005 - 01:13am PT
Back in the early 70s they would come screaming in at about 500 or so feet above the valley floor straight for half dome then left turn up tenaya canyon. Then come back later for the encore out towards the central valley.

Nowadays at ten thousand feet above? What’s the world coming to? You can’t even see Joe six pack in the campground looking up at ya from 10,000 feet as he’s whooping it up or flippin you the bird.

May 22, 2005 - 05:51pm PT
Yeah, I remember those days too. Just about got sucked off the summit of Dana in '79 by the tail wash of some hotdog Top Gun wannabe when he blasted by no more than 200ft. overhead.

Santa Barbara, CA
May 23, 2005 - 12:10am PT
That's 10,000 feet above sea level - not 10,000 feet above the valley, right? The summit of El Cap sits about 7,500 feet above sea level so you would have been 2500 feet over it.
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